Roseveare H, 2006, Give me this Mountain, (Christian Focus Publications: Scotland)
This book, written by Dr Helen Roseveare, describes her conversion and her subsequent call to the mission field where she set up a training school for nurses in the Congo in 1954. She gives a very honest assessment of how she struggled with missionary life and how the Lord taught her many lessons about her character, showed her more of himself and describes how life has been a journey for her “towards one definite goal, “that I may know him…”, our God, revealed to us in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The book takes us through Helen Roseveare’s life as a child and begins with how she initially became aware of her need for God whilst at boarding school. There she describes how she “became conscious of God… God who was bigger than everything around [her], and [she] needed him.” Consequently she was confirmed in the Anglican Church. She saw this as the beginning of her search for God; however this search intensified when she went to University in Cambridge, where she met Christian friends who were heavily involved in the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union. She attended bible studies with them and was particularly challenged by their love for the Bible. As a result of this she attended a Christian Union house party and it was there, after a bible study on the book of Romans that she became a Christian. She describes it as the start of “a thrilling journey of the Christian pilgrimage through this earthly life towards the heavenly eternity.” During that weekend one of the bible teachers wrote in her bible the words of Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death,” which was to become a key passage for her as she carried out her ministry.
She felt called to the mission field during her time at University. She attended WEC training college and there she was called by God to serve in the Congo through Isaiah 58:12, “Thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach,” after hearing of the tremendous needs in the country. Throughout her time in Congo she set up a training school for Congolese nurses – she had a real burden for training national workers. After her first furlough she went back to the Congo at a very dangerous time following the country’s declaration of independence. However she felt that the Lord had her there “for such a time as this” Esther 4:14. The hospital at Nebobongo was under rebel soldier occupation for five years and during this time she suffered staff rebellion, personal illness, ill-treatment by soldiers, many missionaries left and she was taken captive. Yet amazingly, she comes to the realisation that through all of the trials and difficulties that this suffering is to be counted as a privilege. This suffering enables her to know her Lord better and that is all that mattered to her. Indeed she states that “participation in His suffering is necessary to each one if we are to fulfil His will in this world.” She describes her life and work in the Congo as entering “into the great privilege of bearing about the One who had paid the supreme cost.”
What struck me about this book was Helen Roseveare’s honesty about her own struggles on the mission field. Often there is a perception that missionaries are a “special” sort of Christian, however she warns against this view because “the whole idea becomes wrapped in a veil of romantic splendour, so that even the candidate may fail to observe the unreality of it.” Indeed, Helen Roseveare’s honest assessment of her own character flaws and how the Lord moulded her through each experience really challenged me.
She addresses a number of issues, such as pride in her own ability and questions if she truly understood that she are doing the work for the glory of God and not for herself. She gives a challenging illustration of how nails are used to hold up a piece of furniture, yet they are unseen and questions if she was “willing to be nails in the hands of the Master Carpenter? Would [she] grumble at the painful blows of the hammer, or… remember that the hammer was held by the nail-pierced hands? ”
She addresses the attitude of missionaries when they have to hand over their work and how this brings into focus whose work it really is – the Lord’s. She also struggled with a sense of entitlement after her first missionary furlough. She was in a relationship, but had to give this up as she realised that it was getting in the way of what the Lord had for her do to do in the Congo. She addresses practical issues, such as the busyness of missionary life and how there is often a link between physical tiredness and spiritual ill-health. Constantly throughout the book she comes back to the point that these difficulties were at their most acute when her personal devotional time with the Lord was not what it should have been. She discusses the need for personal holiness and considers that perhaps we do not see conversion because our lives do match up to what the Bible teaches. She states, “It didn’t really matter what people thought. It didn’t matter what it cost. One just had to be all out for Him… and… with it all came this tremendous challenge to holiness. We must be holy.” She came to understand that along with a closer relationship with the Lord “came an increased sensitiveness towards sin.” Indeed she gives a very moving account of an incident where a time of pray and fasting made her very much aware of her own sin and how her own attitude of pride and unwillingness to work with others was causing problems at the hospital.
This account of missionary life has challenged me to see that when one is called to be a missionary “one is called upon to reveal Christ, to live a Christ-like life” in whatever sphere that may be. Helen Roseveare discovered that in all things we have a God who “is personally interested in us as individuals”. This means that when we allow him to have his way in our lives, he will bring us into circumstances, good and bad, where his glory will be displayed and where we will ultimately become more like him and know him more.
 Roseveare H, 2006, Give me this Mountain, (Christian Focus Publications: Scotland), p.7.
 Ibid. 33
 Ibid. 32 & 33
 Ibid. 68
 Ibid. 158
 Ibid. 159
 Ibid. 85
 Ibid. 82
 Ibid. 55
 Ibid. 65
 Ibid. 86
 Ibid. 156
 Philippians 3:10